New Delhi, Aug. 7: Congress leader Natwar Singh used his position to introduce a relative and one of his son’s friends to the Saddam Hussein regime, which helped them swing two oil contracts, according to the R.S. Pathak report.
Natwar’s son Jagat Singh, then general secretary of the Youth Congress, stands accused of the same charge.
Jagat’s cousin Andaleeb Sehgal and friend Aditya Khanna earned a commission of more than $193,000 in two oil contracts, says the report tabled in Parliament today.
The report adds that Natwar and Jagat did not receive any financial or personal benefits, but Pathak has not explained what motive would have driven the former external affairs minister to meet Iraq oil minister Amer Mohammed Rasheed in 2001 with Jagat and Andaleeb and subsequently write three letters to him.
He just says Natwar “influenced and facilitated” oil contracts for persons close to him.
In the first correspondence on January 30, he writes: “I am sending this letter with Mr Andaleeb Sehgal. He was present when I called on you on January 22, 2001 at your office in Baghdad. He is well known to me for many years and so is the company he owns. He enjoys my full support and confidence, and I would appreciate you giving him your full assistance and cooperation.”
In the letter, written on the party’s official letterhead, Natwar describes himself as a member of the Congress Working Committee and chairman of the foreign affairs cell, but put his residential phone numbers on it.
In a finding that has angered the opposition parties, the report has exonerated the Congress, saying its name had figured as a non-contractual beneficiary because that was the impression created in the minds of Iraqi authorities by the conduct of Natwar and his son.
The narration of his deposition in the report suggests Natwar had not disclosed facts or told what proved to be half-truths after investigation.
For instance, he did not disclose that Jagat and Andaleeb were present when he met Rasheed. He also said he was not aware of the text of the letter.
There is evidence that he used the Congress’s cordial relations with Saddam’s Ba’ath Party to swing the deals.
Attached to the third letter was an extract from the Congress’s “foreign policy resolution concerning the Middle East” on the letterhead of the Youth Congress bearing the name of Jagat Singh, general secretary.
Tracing the money trail of the two contracts won by Hamdaan Exports, promoted by Andaleeb and Aditya under the UN oil-for-food programme, the report said the company earned a commission of $47,000 on one contract and $146,000 on the second.